Exploitation of Indian Culture

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30 January 2008
Exploitation of Indian Culture
Nora Naranjo-Morse’s poem, “Mud Woman’s First Encounter with the World of Money and Business” portrays the internal struggle of Mud Woman, a contemporary Native Indian woman attempting to balance the traditions and ideals of her native culture with the outside consumer culture. When Mud Woman sells her art to a outside gallery owner, she comes to a realization that she may be exacerbating the commercialization and exploitation of her own Pueblo culture.

The poem begins with an elaborate description of the character's artwork. As Mud Woman presents her artwork to a non-Indian gallery owner, one can interpret that her work has a deep sentimental and traditional value. Naranjo-Morse describes her as “unwrapp[ing] her clay figures, unfolding the cloth each was nestled in, carefully, almost with ceremony” (lines 1-3). The use of the word 'ceremony', suggests the importance of the artwork to the Indian culture. The clay figures may have an unseen traditional value. Mud Woman is described as “Concerning herself with the specific curves, bends and idiosyncrasies, that made each piece her own”(lines 4-5). Mud Woman is demonstrating her own sense of style, originality, and tradition through her artwork. The use of words 'specific' and 'idiosyncrasies' further implicate the personal uniqueness of the artwork. As the poem continues we see that this newly adopted personal and innovative style, may not be considered truly 'traditional' Indian artwork by outside cultures.

As Mud Woman looks over her work she is described as “feel[ing] her pride surging upward from a secret part within her, translating into a smile that passed her lips”(lines 7-10). She is clearly proud of her work, but now is exposing it as simply a product to be sold. The 'secret part within her' may represent the womans tabooed desire to feel as if she too, can be a part of this outside culture. However, she must keep this 'secret',...
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